Ascot, England // Frankel saved his career-defining performance until his final race by producing a dramatic victory in the Champion Stakes at Ascot last night.
The world’s highest-rated racehorse was finally required to come off the bridle for the first time in his unblemished 14-race career after a furious challenge from Cirrus Des Aigles forced jockey Tom Queally to pull out all the stops.
Where Frankel’s outrageous ability had seen him destroy 20 subsequent Group 1 winners over the past three seasons, unfavourably soft conditions finally drew the world’s best horse into a dogfight. And what a fighter he was as he held off the sustained challenge of Cirrus Des Aigles, the defending champion, by a length and a quarter.
Frankel will now retire with his perfect record intact and will perform stallion duties for Juddmonte Farms, Prince Khalid Abdullah’s worldwide breeding operation.
“He is a magical horse but four years is enough,” the Saudi Prince said. “Today was important. I knew that he was going to win and but for the ground he would have been a lot further way from Cirrus Des Aigles.”
Frankel’s maturity as a four-year-old threatened to derail his attempt to keep his unbeaten record intact as the son of Galileo missed the break and was left for a heartbeat inside the starting stalls.
Out jumped his three-quarters brother Bullet Train, and Olivier Peslier was determined to make the 10-furlong contest a test of stamina and went with him on Cirrus Des Aigles.
William Buick helped to pull Frankel out of his comfort zone by positioning Nathaniel in behind.
Queally rousted his mount along in the first furlong and had Buick in his sights as the field swept around the bend. As the six horses came into the straight Buick had pressed the accelerator to put down his challenge to Cirrus Des Aigles and with two furlongs to go it looked as if the pair might fight out the finish.
Frankel ranged up and passed Nathaniel, however, and approaching the final furlong the two highest-rated horses in the world came together.
“I had to give him a kick, which I don’t usually have to but when I did the power kicked in. It was like a 4x4, the engine started going,” Queally said.“I am really proud of Frankel and we have been on an amazing journey. He was slow away in his last race, and a little bit slower today but I have so much belief in the horse and I suppose that we pushed that to the limit.
“Under the circumstances I would say it is up there with his best performances.”
Frankel’s legacy is no longer simply as the greatest miler the world has seen and his ability over ten furlongs, and now his determination to win, will stand the test of time.
Sir Henry Cecil had said last year that Frankel was the best horse he had laid eyes on in 44 years of training but the 69-year-old trainer was adamant that now his charge’s reputation as the best of all time was assured.
“In the end he had plenty in hand,” Cecil said. “I cannot believe in the history of racing that there has been a better horse.”